In Romans 12:1 Paul encourages us to “offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.” Why? Because of God’s mercy (same verse). It’s because God in his mercy is giving us another shot at getting things right this time – and starting at the same spot he started Adam at in Genesis too, by using the body God equips us humans with to fulfill his plan on this planet.
So it’s the same simple plan: it’s what we do with our bodies that pleases God, in all the everyday things our bodies do. But this time, unlike Adam, it’s with our minds geared to two things: not being “conformed to the pattern of this world,” and seeking instead to know and do God’s “good, pleasing and perfect will,” verse 2.
Offering our bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God, then, very much depends on where our thinking is at. Adam’s thinking, for instance, was focused purely on his natural response to what looked tasty to eat, with no thought whatsoever given to God’s good, pleasing and perfect will. As Paul writes in verse 2, then, it’s going to take a huge transformation in our thinking, and a total rewiring of our minds, so we don’t just do what comes naturally like Adam, or just let things happen during our day without a thought about what is holy and pleasing to God.
To create such a transformation in our thinking, however, is beyond our ability naturally, just as it was for Adam. What we need, therefore, is supernatural help. And what better proof do we need of that than the abysmal state of mental health in the world today? It amazes me how easily we humans are sucked in by obvious propaganda and outright lies spewed out by the media, politicians and advertising. Clear facts are doubted and ignored, while sensational headlines, conspiracy theories, fake news and “click bait” are readily sought out and believed. But this is now “the pattern of our world,” as Paul phrased it in verse 2, and how easy it is to “conform” to it, as if it’s all quite harmless and normal.
But look at the terrible effect it’s having on us. We don’t know who or what to belleve. Are we really getting all the facts on climate change, for instance, or is it just another deceptive wheeze by big corporations and governments to enslave us to them? For our young people especially it’s becoming an ugly and scary world, and their increasing need for mental help and therapy is proof of it.
But here we are as Christians with the secret to mental health. It’s knowing that we give God great pleasure in what we do with our bodies. Isn’t it wonderful, for instance, knowing that in something as simple as what we’re doing every day, no matter what it is, whether it’s household chores, going to work, caring for a garden or kids or elderly parents, or doing the simplest, littlest things for others, gives our Father the greatest kick when he sees and watches what we do, tuned by minds that love pleasing him?
But that’s where peace of mind comes from, and we get to experience it supernaturally every day. And it’s what God would have given Adam, if
Adam had simply asked God to help him think straight when faced with the serpent’s propaganda.
And that’s the lesson we’ve all had to learn ever since, that thinking straight doesn’t come to us naturally. We need help. But ask for that help in recognition of our weakness, and as Paul phrased it in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “the power of Christ rests on us,” and so much so we can even “delight in our weaknesses, in insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties.” Now that’s real mental health on offer, and Hebrews 4:16 says we can call on Jesus for it without any embarrassment whatsoever.
Jesus is in the business of rewiring minds into the likeness of his mind, so that we can do things that people in the world cannot do. We can love a bully, forgive the ungrateful and spiteful, return good for evil, and show kindness to the unlovable and selfish. And in enabling us to do these things we become “living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.”
And it’s knowing we’re giving God great pleasure that we have the secret to mental health. It’s where a healthy mind comes from, knowing our God is jolly pleased with us his kids, doing with our bodies what he designed them for in Genesis, but this time tuned by the power of Christ to think straight and not be conformed to the devil’s lies.
Every day, then, we can experience the supernatural tuning our minds mentally so that in everything our bodies do we’re giving God pleasure.